CareSTL Opioid Walk

Enthusiastic participants headed on their way under the flag detail provided by the St. Louis Fire Department during the last CareSTL Opioid Walk in Forest Park. This year’s walk is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday and begins on the Upper Muny Parking Lot.

CareSTL Health will host the 3rd Project O Opioid Awareness Day Walk/Run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, August 6, 2022, in Forest Park on the Upper Muny parking lot.

Project O was created to raise awareness about the devastating opioid epidemic, and the impact it is having on the community. 

Opioid overdose deaths among Black people in Missouri is third highest in the nation (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2020) with deaths in St. Louis and St. Louis County driving up statewide rates. State data shows opioid-involved deaths among Black men increased 17%, and 47% in St. Louis County, respectively.

“This is not new to the clinical staff at CareSTL Health. Our medical team has been assisting patients overdosing for years. It’s what we do but part of our mission is to fight for healthy outcomes for our patients and the community. That’s what we are doing by hosting the opioid awareness walk,” said CareSTL Health CEO Angela Clabon.

“We must do our part to end the stigma that goes along with seeking mental health. People in our communities are suffering from trauma, self-medicating, and dying and families are ashamed. I’m not ashamed. I’m in pain. CareSTL Health is committed to helping families who are like mine, and so many others.”

 Opioid deaths and addiction are ravaging all communities and age groups, according to a Stanford-Lancet study on the North American opioid crisis, released earlier this year.

It found that without urgent intervention, 1.2 million people in the U.S. and Canada will die from opioid overdoses by the end of the decade.

In CareSTL Health communities buying street drugs “is a game of chance,” says Clabon.

Drugs or pills purchased in nonmedical settings may contain fatal doses of fentanyl.

 “We have been saving patients from overdosing since before COVID. Fentanyl is not new; it’s just become popular. Overdoses have dramatically increased because of Fentanyl,” said Demarsha Davis, RMA.

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis launched a 30-day NARCAN distribution effort in partnership with Americorps and B.A.S.I.C. [Black Alcohol/Drug Information Center] in February. More than 200 vials of NARCAN per day were distributed for 30 days in areas where open drug use is prevalent. 

Narcan is the brand name for naloxone, an FDA-approved prescription medicine nasal spray that can block the effects of opioids, and that can reverse an overdose, according to drugfree.org.

Lauiesha Plummer, RMA, said, “Narcan brings them back. But we were well aware of Fentanyl before COVID.”

“We see people get clean through the Medication Assisted Treatment {MAT] programs, then they get stressed out, relapse and overdose. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual. It’s really heartbreaking.” 

This year participants can walk or run a fun one mile or challenge themselves to a 5K in memory of an individual affected by opioids.

Prizes will be awarded to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place runners/walkers and the largest group. CareSTL Health’s Project O – Opioid Awareness Walk/Run is powered by United Healthcare, Aetna, and BJC Healthcare. 

“Opioid abuse is another public health issue that must be aggressively addressed. This year, we will expand our Project O efforts throughout the year with more events presenting resources for the community,” Clabon said.

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